Shield Shapes

The shape of the shield you use is a big thing to consider for anyone.  Your shields shape will change the way you move, defend, and attack.  the way and angle your shield is strapped can change things as well. Take your time and really think it over.

In my opinion the strapped round is the best shield for beginners to learn with.  The shield I am referring to is approximately 2′ in diameter and is strapped with one point in your hand and the other on your forearm. The hand grip should be closer to the center of the shield than the edge.  This lead to a bit more of your shield being extended from your hand, extending the reach of your defense.

I believe this is the best beginning shield because of its versatility, ease of basic use, and the ability to take the methods and techniques and easily transferring them to other shapes of shields.  If a fighter begins with this shield they will have a more shallow learning curve, meaning and easier time, when learning any other type of shield.

The arm motions used are similar to the ones used with other strapped shields.  The angles of your edges are similar to the buckler. Your hand placement and pressure is similar to the way a center gripped shield would be used.

If a fighter starts with other types of shield, yes they may get greater success early on, but that ease leads to tougher growth later.  If your goal is to become the best you can than every set back is an issue, anything that can slow you down is a problem.

The Cone of Defense

Guard placement is an important  thing to think about.  The distance from your body greatly effects how much of you  is covered by your defense. We call this the cone of defense.

The coverage of your guard isn’t just the same shape of your shield.  It extends at angles around your guard, these angles are effected by the size, shape and orientation of your shield.  As shown in the images comparing two different sword and buckler stances.  As you can see the further away from you the beginning of your guard is the more coverage it gives your body.

These angles are the same for the sides as well not just the top and bottom of your guard.  if you take the 3D image of what these angles create you get the cone.

It may appear that this would only effect straight attacks, such as thrusts, but this concept can be applied in the same way with other attack too.  With your guard further away from you you have more time to make the block before it can get the angel to reach you.

This concept is just one that we use to help fighters grow.  if your defense is good you can give yourself a lot more time in a fight to figure out a strategy and win!

Grappling Drills for training in Melee conditions Part 1


When it comes to team fighting in steel completions the ground is “lava.”  Meaning if you have three points of contact on the ground you are “dead” and become an obstacle on the field for others to trip over. For most sword fighters grappling and take downs where you are not allowed to go down with your opponent is one of the most challenging aspects of our sport.  Here are a few drills to help improve your odds with grappling.

Step 1: Understanding Balance Points

The first part of becoming a great grappler is understanding how to tip an armored opponent.  This drill helps you develop the feel of grappling.

There is a lot of variations you can do with this drill. Changing the position of the feet, starting close, or far apart. The important part is not moving your feet. This drill will help develop your balance and timing. Eventually you are using your head and hips to counter what your partner is doing. Start off in any stance you want. Grasp your partner’s forearms, one hand under and one hand over as shown in the video. You can only push and pull with your arms, no head butts or other crazy things. Experiment with different stances and learn the strengths and weakness for each. This drill is a great core workout and makes for a good warmup before practice. The first person to move one of their feet looses.

Step 2: Counters and Defense

Once you have a grasp of how to tip your opponent now you are ready to learn how to defend yourself from getting tipped using your footwork and core strength.  There are a lot of ways to practice this step.  The easiest way to learn is do the Push Pull Drill from the previous section and add one step for each person to use.  If one person steps to pull you off balance can you correct or even gain the advantage with a counter step?  Here is a suggested defensive stance to try.

Many times beginner fighters freeze when they are rushed with an aggressive opponent who charges straight in for a grapple. When that happens the more aggressive fighter grabs their opponent’s shoulders and throws their opponent before they have time to think. When you were experimenting with different stances during the Push Pull Drill, you might have learned that the more narrow your stance the harder it is to push you back, however, you are vulnerable to a side attack. However, for this drill that extra strength to a front attack is exactly what you need. When your opponent rushes straight at you meet their aggression with your own. Step directly into their attack, make sure you place your lead foot in between your opponent’s feet. Reach an arm around their back, make sure you are not crossing over your center line. Sink your weight on your hips, like what you learned from the Push Pull Drill. If you get the timing and placement down for this drill take it one step further and do a forward hip toss.

Step 3: Adding Movement

Now that you have the basics down time to put it into motion.  This drill is a simple movement drill to start teaching timing and spotting the perfect motion to do your take down.

In this drill each person has a different objective to “win.” Both people will start in a tight grappling position against a wall.  Instructor Janeal Ironside is representing the first person.  The first person’s job is to get to the opposite side of the room.  Instructor Nicholas Ironside is representing the second person.  The second person’s job is to turn their opponent around.  This drill is not about throwing your opponent, but using your core, footwork, and timing, to control your opponent.  Once that element is mastered you will find your throws will become much easier.

This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat.  If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try!  We also offer online classes for those of you who live far away – Sign up for Online Classes.

We would love to hear from you. Let us know if these drills are helpful.  We also take requests for anyone wanting to learn more.  Find us on Facebook for all of our latest and greatest updates.

Vocabulary Conversation when Converting Techniques to Left vs Right.

We have been working hard to enhance an already amazing fighting system, Stockton Multi Style Escrima. Traditional martial arts predominantly trains right handed versus right handed. However, in steel fighting it is common to face left handed opponents. That is why we started working on a project to enhance Stockton Multi Style to include this new challenge.

After getting some great feedback from a number of outstanding martial artists, and great conversation with instructor Nelson Pinto, we came up with two ways to look at this conversion. The two terms are reverse and symmetric. The below video shows the difference between these terms. For our conversations in our new video series “Escrima to Sword and Shield” we will be using the symmetric version of the techniques.

Training Power and Body Mechanics

When it comes to generating power in martial arts it is about fighting smarter not harder.  Raw strength is a great asset for martial arts, however, muscles often distract from using body mechanics to increase your power.  The other benefit for using body mechanics is conservation of energy.  You can throw a significantly high number of hard hits blows faster and longer when you use body mechanics instead of the muscles in your arms.

Phase 1

Use this drill as a warm up to start training your core to help generate power instead of your arm:

This drill is designed to practice the downward strikes at the neck and shoulder. The strike comes in at a 45 degree angle. When practicing this strike on a straight pell like the one in the video it is normal for the sword to slide down. Make sure your initial contact is edge on at a 45 degree angle to the pell. Be sure to over exaggerate your movements as you learn this drill. It’s about teaching your muscles timing and firing to add speed and power to your strikes.

Phase 2

This next drill is training your feet to step in time with your body’s swing. Many new fighters will strike before their feet are on the ground, which results in having a foot in the air as they are trying to hit.  That means they lose 25-50% of their power from poor footwork.

Be careful with this drill! You will need about 3 feet of rope with some kind of weight on the end. I used a 2.5 pound weight. Do not go heavier than 2-3 pounds. You just need the weight to get the rope moving and feel the drag of the rope. Start with the rope a little shorter as you learn this drill, then you can go longer once you get the hang of it. Start by just swinging the rope around your head like a cowboy. Focus on the feel of your core muscles and how you are engaging your muscles with this movement. As you get used to the movement start to add steps. You want all of your muscles to move in the same direction driving your power into your opponent

Phase 3

Time to put it all together and start learning how to apply this technique in a fight.

The secret to this technique is turning your body into a whip.  Your hips generate the power sending it through your shoulders into your arms.  Once the power has been released you pull your hips, shoulders, and arm back to create that extra whip at the end.  The video above is a quick explanation of this concept.  If you want a more detailed explanation of this technique check out “Team Ursus: Jeffery Galli Polearm Training Exercises.”

This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat.  If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try!  We also offer online classes for those of you who live far away – Sign up for Online Classes.

We would love to hear from you. Let us know if these drills are helpful.  We also take requests for anyone wanting to learn more.  Find us on Facebook for all of our latest and greatest updates.

1845 N Circle Dr Colorado Springs CO 80909 719-947-2844 info@ironsidemc.org M-Th: 5:30pm-9:00pm Friday: 6:00pm-9:00pm Saturday: 8:00am-12:30 pm